Month: September 2015

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – Book Review

1439510441783I liked the book, so it’s a tad weird to put “disappointed” in the same sentence, but have you ever read a book where you absolutely loved the first third – the setup, the world building, the characters – and then it turned into something else that, while reasonably entertaining, didn’t quite captivate you as much? Red Rising was that book for me.

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The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham – Book Review

9780099284765-1I’ve read three novels by Maugham so far and this one, which I believe is one of his best-known books, was my favourite. Based on the life of Paul Gaugin, The Moon and Sixpence is a study of an artist named Charles Strickland as seen through the eyes of an unnamed narrator, who comes in contact with Strickland at various times in his life. When first introduced, Strickland, a banker in his forties with a wife, two kids and a comfortable life, doesn’t strike him as anything more than a conventional, decent middle-class bore. That changes when, out of a blue, Strickland abandons his family and leaves for Paris (then later Tahiti) – not for another woman, as his wife initially believes, but to be an artist.

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Everest – Film Review

everestmoviex-144292675284pclYeah… I’m not picking up mountain climbing any time soon.

Everest is based on the true story of the disastrous climb in May 1996 when eight people lost their lives on the mountain due to the combination of horrible weather, poor decisions and just some plain bad luck. The film is a fairly straightforward portrayal of the tragedy; at the start, we meet Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), a New Zealander whose company offers guided climbs to the summit of Everest, and his group of adventurers. They spend some time at the base camp, where Rob decides to team up with a rival expedition leader, a laid-back hippyish climber called Scott (Jake Gyllenhaal). Then they’re off to the summit, and it’s not too long before the first ominous signs of an impending disaster begin to appear.

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New music – September 2015

By a strange coincidence, the albums I’ve acquired lately are all by the British (and Irish) female artists and feature moody black-and-white cover photos. They are however nothing alike musically.

Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Every time an artist I really like releases a new album my reaction is half excitement, half trepidation – what if it’s no good? Luckily it’s three for three so far for Florence. The reviews I’ve read billed this as a more subdued, intimate offering, and while that’s somewhat true it only really feels reigned in by comparison to Ceremonials, where the melodrama and bombast were cranked up to 11. That album remains my favourite, but a slight change in direction is a smart move, there’re only so many tribal drums and viking warrior vocals you can do before it becomes repetitive. While for me the new album doesn’t have an individual standout track like Rabbit Heart or What The Water Gave Me, the songs are all strong and Florence’s voice is still marvellous, with a few of the songs displaying a new delicacy. It’s a damn shame I’ll be missing out on her live shows this time around.

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Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann – Book Review

9780552774222This book was rather frustrating. It started off with a bang – in 1992, somewhere in South America, a young man named Leo wakes up in a hospital to find out that his girlfriend Eleni was killed in a bus accident. He has no memory of the crash, and is utterly overwhelmed with grief. This story then alternates with something completely different – in 1914, a young Jewish man named Moritz, who lives in what would later become Poland, is off to the war to fight for the Austro-Hungarian empire, leaving behind a girl he loves. So the book is about these two men in different eras, whose lives revolve around the memories of the women, and who go on quests spurred on by love – a more physical one in Moritz’s case, a more spiritual one for Leo.

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